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Authors: Chris Sciabarra

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Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical

AYN RAND

THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY PRESS
UNIVERSITY PARK, PENNSYLVANIA

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Sciabarra, Chris Matthew, 1960–

Ayn Rand : the Russian radical / Chris Matthew

Sciabarra.—Second edition.

p.    cm

Summary: “Analyzes the intellectual roots and philosophy of Ayn Rand. Second edition adds a new preface and an analysis of transcripts documenting Rand’s education at Petrograd State University”—Provided by publisher.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-0-271-06227-3 (pbk. : alk. paper)

1. Rand, Ayn.

2. Objectivism (Philosophy).

3. Dialectic.

4. Philosophers—Russia.

5. Philosophers—United States.

I. Title.

B945.R234S35 2013

191—dc23

2013027117

Second edition copyright © 2013 Chris Matthew Sciabarra

Original copyright © 1995 Chris Matthew Sciabarra

All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America

Published by The Pennsylvania State University Press,

University Park, PA 16802-1003

It is the policy of The Pennsylvania State University Press to use acid-free paper for the first printing of all clothbound books. Publications on uncoated stock satisfy the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials,

ANSI Z39.48–1992.

To the memory of my Uncle Sam,
for his guidance, loyalty, support, and love

CONTENTS

List of Illustrations and Diagrams

Preface to the Second Edition

Acknowledgments

Introduction

PART ONE: THE PROCESS OF BECOMING

1

Synthesis in Russian Culture

2

Lossky, the Teacher

3

Educating Alissa

4

The Maturation of Ayn Rand

PART TWO: THE REVOLT AGAINST DUALISM

5

Being

6

Knowing

7

Reason and Emotion

8

Art, Philosophy, and Efficacy

9

Ethics and Human Survival

10

A Libertarian Politics

PART THREE: THE RADICAL RAND

11

Relations of Power

12

The Predatory State

13

History and Resolution

Epilogue

Appendix I: The Rand Transcript (1999)

Appendix II: The Rand Transcript, Revisited (2005)

Appendix III: A Challenge to
Russian Radical

and Ayn Rand (2013)

Notes

References

Index

LIST OF FIGURES

  
1
  
Nicholas Onufrievich Lossky (1870–1965), Ayn Rand’s philosophy teacher at Petrograd University. Photo taken in the United States, 1950. (Courtesy of Boris Lossky)
  
2
The Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Petersburg. In 1924, Ayn Rand lectured tourists on the fortress’s history. (Courtesy of Boris Lossky)
  
3
Nathaniel and Barbara Branden at their wedding, 1953. (Courtesy of Nathaniel Branden)
  
4
Members of Rand’s inner circle, at the wedding of Nathaniel Branden’s sister, Elayne, to Harry Kalberman.
From left:
Joan Mitchell, Alan Greenspan, Nathaniel Branden, Barbara Branden, Leonard Peikoff, Elayne Kalberman, Harry Kalberman, Ayn Rand, Frank O’Connor (Rand’s husband), and Allan Blumenthal. (Courtesy of Barbara Branden)
  
5
George Walsh. (Courtesy of Karen Reedstrom)
  
6
David Kelley. (Courtesy of David Kelley)
  
7
Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden in the mid-1950s. (Courtesy of Nathaniel Branden)
  
8
Ayn Rand in the driveway of her ranch in the San Fernando Valley in the 1940s. (Courtesy of Barbara Branden)
  
9
Ayn Rand on Wall Street in New York City after
Atlas Shrugged
was accepted by Random House for publication, 1957. (Courtesy of Barbara Branden)
10   
Ayn Rand, Frank O’Connor, and Frisco the cat. (Courtesy of John Hospers)
11
Nathaniel Branden. (Photo by E. Devers Branden, courtesy of Nathaniel Branden)
12
Ayn Rand in her New York City apartment, 1967. (Courtesy of Barbara Branden)
13
N. O. Lossky in 1922. (Courtesy of Blitz Information Services, which retrieved this photo from N. O. Lossky’s GPU file)

LIST OF DIAGRAMS

  
1
  
Ayn Rand’s Multilevel Analysis of Power Relations
  
2
Parallel Spheres: Social and Individual
  
3
Reciprocal Causation in the Social and Individual Spheres
  
4
Tier 2: Culture
  
5
Tier 2: The New Cultural Movement

PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION

Nearly twenty years ago,
Ayn
Rand
:
The Russian Radical
was published. In its wake came much controversy and discussion,
1
which greatly influenced the course of my research in subsequent years. In 1999, I co-edited, with Mimi Reisel
Gladstein
,
Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand
, part of the Pennsylvania State University Press series on Re-Reading the Canon, which now includes nearly three dozen volumes, each devoted to a major thinker in the Western philosophic tradition, from Plato and Aristotle to Foucault and Arendt. In that same year, I became a founding co-editor of the
Journal of Ayn Rand Studies
, a biannual interdisciplinary scholarly journal on Ayn Rand and her times that, in its first twelve volumes, published over 250 articles by over 130 authors. In 2013, the journal began a new collaboration with the Pennsylvania State University Press that will greatly expand its academic visibility and electronic accessibility.

It therefore gives me great pleasure to see that two essays first published in the
Journal of Ayn Rand Studies
—“
The Rand Transcript
” (1999c) and “
The Rand Transcript, Revisited
” (2005b)—have made their way into the pages of the second, expanded edition of this book, providing a more complete record of the fascinating historical details of Rand’s education from 1921 to 1924 at what was then Petrograd State University.

In publishing the second edition of any book written two decades ago, an author might be tempted to change this or that formulation or phrase to render more accurately its meaning or to eliminate the occasional error of fact. I have kept such
revisions
to a minimum; the only extensively revised section is an expanded discussion in
chapter 12
of Rand’s foreign policy views, relevant to a post-9/11 generation, under the subheading “The Welfare-Warfare State.” Nevertheless, part of the charm of seeing a second edition of this book published now is being able to leave the original work largely untouched and to place it in a broader, clarifying context that itself could not have been apparent when it was first published.

My own Rand research activities over these years are merely one small part of an explosive increase in Rand sightings across the social landscape: in books on biography, literature, philosophy, politics, and culture;
2
film;
3
and contemporary American politics, from the Tea Party to the presidential election.
4

Even President
Barack Obama
, in his November 2012
Rolling Stone
interview, acknowledges having read Ayn Rand:

Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we’d pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we’re only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we’re considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity—that that’s a pretty narrow vision. It’s not one that, I think, describes what’s best in America. (in Brinkley 2012)

The bulk of this book predates the president’s assessment, and yet it is, in significant ways, a response to assessments of that kind. First and foremost, it is a statement of the inherent
radicalism
of Rand’s approach. Her radicalism speaks not to the alleged “narrow vision” but to the broad totality of
social
relationships that must be transformed as a means of resolving a host of social problems. Rand saw each of these social problems as related to others, constituting—and being constituted by—an overarching
system
of
statism
that she opposed.

My work takes its cue from Rand, and other thinkers in both the libertarian tradition, such as Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, and Murray N. Rothbard, and the
dialectical
tradition, such as Aristotle, G. W. F. Hegel, Karl Marx, and Bertell Ollman. From these disparate influences, I have constructed the framework for a “dialectical
libertarianism
” as the only fundamental alternative to that overarching
system
of statism. In this book, I identify Rand as a key
theorist
in the evolution of a “dialectical libertarian” political project.

The essence of a dialectical method is that it is “the art of
context
-keeping.” More specifically, it emphasizes the need to understand any object of study or any social problem by grasping the larger context within which it is embedded, so as to trace its myriad—and often reciprocal—causes and effects. The larger context must be viewed in terms that are both
systemic
and historical.

Systemically,
dialectics
demands that we trace the relationships among seemingly disparate objects of study or among disparate social problems so as to understand how these objects and problems relate to one another—and to the larger system they constitute and that shapes them. Historically,
dialectics
demands that we trace the development of these relationships over time—that is, that we understand each object of study or each social problem through its past, present, and potential future manifestations.

This attention to context is the central reason why a dialectical approach has often been connected to a radical politics. To be radical is to “go to the root.” Going to the “root” of a social problem requires understanding how it came about. Tracing how problems are situated within a larger system
over
time is, simultaneously, a step toward resolving those problems and overturning and revolutionizing the system that generates them.

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